Death of a loved one is a hard-enough situation to cope with by itself – and then dealing with dividing up their assets and this not being as you had imagined can be stressful and you feel disappointment.
A will is often also labelled in legal speak as the Last Will and Testament. It is a legal document which outlines how the person making the will wants their estate to be left following their death.
Once it becomes clear who has been given what, families can find themselves caught up in an unforeseen disagreement and could end up in court. It is important therefore that everyone knows what their rights are whether they would have a strong enough case to contest the will.
It is within everyone’s right to leave money and belongings to whom so ever they wish in their Will, but in some cases, members do have disputes over the validity of the Will.
J M R Solicitors in Manchester, has provided some insight forthose thinking about contesting
There are some solid reasons that may be your basis for contesting a will, such as:
- Disputes over identifications of recipients
- Claims regarding arrangements made with the deceased before death
- Where insufficient provision has been made in a Will
- Claims regarding the validity of a Will
- Disputes relating to the interpretation of the terms of a Will
- Claims for and against Executors, Personal Representatives and Trustees, particularly where there is alleged breach of Trust, or to remove or substitute parties
- Disputes relating to Trusts and Charity
Bear in mind, that only certain people can claim they ‘weren’t provided for’
Only a limited class of individuals can bring this type of claim forward. If you are one of the following and feel distressed by what was left to you, the courts will consider your financial condition as well as the size of the estate in question.
The people that can bring this type of claim forward are only the current or previous spouses; any child or person treated as a child; any person who was being sustained immediately before the death of the deceased or who lived in the same household for two years prior to the death can claim.
But almost anyone can dispute on the validity of the will
If you accept as true that the testator lacked the essential mental capacity, knowledge or approval in the production of a will, its legitimacy can be called into question. If unjustified influence was exercised by someone upon the deceased, or the will was not properly executed in harmony with the rules, with witnesses present for example, that can also invalidate the will.
A popular reason for challenging the will is when the person had been extremely ill and under the effect of drugs during palliative care. Anyone but the deceased’s creditor can make this claim, but a typical situation would be a beneficiary under a previous will which would be reinstated if the latest will was proved to be invalid.
It’s vital to act for disputing a will as soon as possible
There is no legislative time limit for bringing a claim that contests the validity of a will. However, it is open to the court to resolve not to let a claim go ahead. The court assumes claimants to get on with it, and will act if there has been unreasoningpostponement – particularly if other parties will be prejudiced by the delay.
This can be stressful, so you do need friends and family at this difficult time – don’t cut them out
Initially, speak to a solicitor to help you understand your unique situation and what you should do. This will help with any time limit issues and we can see whether you need to protect yourself by lodging a caveat.
We strongly suggest all parties also communicate with or without arbitration to help resolve matters – as this may mean you don’t need to proceed to court.
Putting on a claim to contest a will without seeking legal advice and without having legal knowledge can be extremely expensive.
Legally, who can we leave our belongings to in a Will, if living in the UK?
In the UK people are mostly free to leave their property, money and assets to anyone they wish, but there are some boundaries. Under the Inheritance Act of 1975, a will can be contested if you fail to make reasonable provision for spouses and dependent children.
What happens if you are successful in contesting a will?
If a will is effectively contested then it will be declared invalid. It is then substituted as the testator’s last will and testament by the next most recent valid will. If there isn’t another will, then the rules of intestacy will apply in its place.
Whilst the above offers a summary to contesting a will, each case is unlike, and so it is vital to always seek professional legal advice to discuss your own situation.